Thursday, December 22, 2005

More Marathon

More Marathon
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
I just got the "Okay" from the running magazine that I write for to go to New York to cover the "More Marathon". I AM SO EXCITED! It's a women's only event. I've never run an entire marathon with only women. Most of all I'm excited to be going to New York City in the springtime. Wow, now I REALLY have incentive to get in shape for the spring. If you're interested in coming, please drop me a line. Here's the site for additional information:

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Strength (or weakness)

Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
See this hot fitness model in the photo? She's performing an exercise called the lunge. At the beginning of every training cycle I always start out with strengthening exercises. They keep your muscle tone up and I try and work on specific exercise that'll help me with my running. The lunges are great because they work right on that 'ole gluteus maximus and whips it right into shape. Last monday I decided that I needed to do a few...come to think of it I couldn't remember when the last time was that I'd done any. So after a 30 minute warmup run I did 10 x (20 walking lunges/100mt uphill sprints). Walking lunges are easier for me to do. When you get back up, instead of taking the step backward to go to your original point of origin, you go forward. Well, it must have been awhile since the last time I did this specific exercise. I could feel every-single-muscle in my thighs and butt for the next four days. I did them again yesterday and it felt fine. No pain. Which means next week I have to increase the intensity...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mr.Virus Sponge

Dreamy Evan
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
I was all excited in September when I saw that Evan had been given a spot in day care. In my town the day care is partially city funded so for a relatively small amount of money you can have your child attend from 8.00 am until 12.30 pm. The school is fantastic and the teachers are wonderful and I was finally going to be able to get back into a nice work routine. We had just finished what they call the "insertion" where he goes first for an hour a day, then two, and then the whole four hours, when he got sick. A little fever, a cough that wouldn't go away, I kept him home for three weeks until he was better. He went back and after a mere two days he was sick again. It was a fever again but this time it stuck around for a week and then he got a cough and then an ear infection which required antibiotics. He stayed home a full month. Last monday he went back to day care again. It's really difficult when he doesn't attend for awhile because then it takes him a few days to get back into the routine and get used to the enviroment. I remember one day (maybe wednesday) I told him "say goodbye to everyone". He went straight up to this little girl, took her face in his hands and gave her a kiss on the mouth. It was so sweet, but the first thing I thought to myself was "let's hope she was germ free..." Ugh. Saturday he woke up coughing and hacking. Then he vomited twice during the morning, and to make things worse he has a case of pinkeye in his right eye which I had to beg the pharmacist to give me an antibiotic for. I don't know whether to insist with the day care because if it's not this year it's next year that his little immune system will have to get used to processing germs OR whether I should just wait another year. This would mean I'd have to get another babysitter and pay out mucho dinero which I really really don't want to have to do. Sigh. A mother's dilemma.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What's your strategy?

Christmas Cookies
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
Every Christmas I gain a few pounds, not a lot but probably three or four. Too many Christmas cookies, too many bites of chocolate. There's a certain point where I just say "what the heck..." and eat whatever passes by me. This year I am in a really good place mentally because I feel very very good about myself, but I have to find a way to not gain any weight because from past experience it is really difficult to take off. My first strategy plan has been to sign up for an important race right after the holidays. January 15th I've signed up for a half marathon where I want to try and go under two hours. But then what? Realistically I AM going to be eating, and I certainly don't want to deny myself my favorite christmas cookies so how do I work it out to a zero weight gain? I'm thinking that maybe I could allow myself "free" occasions to eat whatever I want, like one cookie baking day, Christmas day and New Year's Eve, but nothing else in between. After all they always say that it's not the one day but the entire ongoing two weeks that makes people gain weight. Please notice that I talk a lot about christmas cookies. I love cookies and they just remind me of my Mom and my sister and yes, there's a lot of emotion tied up there if you consider that my Mom passed away thirty years ago and my sister lives on the other side of the world. I have a specific set of recipes that I get out that my Mom used to use plus I like to make cookies with my own children.

Also, I'm commited to exercising every single day from the 23rd of december until the 6th of January (still a holiday here in Europe). I'll have plenty of relatives that want to stay with the kids so I won't have to worry about finding a babysitter. I'll have plenty of time to sleep if I need to recoup from workouts. Any other suggestions? What are you going to do?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Marathon nr.23 in the books!

It's only the 1st km!
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
People have asked me several times this year how many marathons I've run. I would always shoot off a number, but in reality I had no idea because I'd never bothered to count them. So as I put away my Milan City Marathon Medal from last Sunday in my running book I took out all the medals and certificates and photos and counted. Milan was number twenty-three. Before you're too impressed you should know that I've been running for fifteen years now so that's actually not a big number. On the other hand it's not shabby either...
I had a really great time at the race. My friend Lucy (on the right in the photo) ran the first 12km with me and then conveniently took a subway to the finish area. It was freezing a** cold outside and for the first 30km they only had icy cold water at the refreshment stations. Then I hit the 35km station and they had hot tea! Gosh, that was delicious. I had three cups and then took off again. My ending time of four hours, thirty minutes and forty seven seconds was nothing special, but as usual I learned a few things about myself along the way:
- No matter what the time is, I still enjoy the run. I've just learned not to get all bugged out about the final time and just enjoy myself.
- I really really enjoy the training process and can't WAIT to get training again for the next.
- Before I run another marathon I want to go under two hours for the half marathon (right now I have a timing of about 2h02', so it shouldn't be difficult to improve).
- I still have to work on my stamina for the last half 'cause I just did too much walking in the end. I do have to say that I always felt good running though.

My next marathon will depend on working circumstances but should either be in Rome or New York, both on March 26, 2006

Friday, December 02, 2005

I'm lighter!

So I was finally able to cross off the number "1" item on my lightness list: I now have an italian driver's license! This has been weighing on my for y-e-a-r-s. Short story: I have a california driver's license that I obtained when I was sixteen. I moved permanently to Italy when I was twenty-one and they have a law here that if you stay for longer than one year, you have to get an italian license. But I always found a way around this. I renewed my foreign license for about ten years, I lied about how long I had been in Italy. I was stopped every once in awhile (in Italy they can make random checks on cars for no reason) but even though they always told me that it would be better to get an Italian license, they always let me go. Until four years ago. That's when they slapped me with a huge fine and told me I had to get one. Please note that in my twenty-nine years of driving I have never gotten a ticket and I have never had an accident.
You're probably wondering why I didn't just go get the dang license. Well, for one thing the test is really difficult. The written test has lots of trick questions and most Italians can't pass it. Second, the whole thing is costly. From start to finish I probably ended up spending about a thousand dollars. Lastly, it just takes a lot of time to do. Time that you probably have when you're sixteen and can't wait to get behind the wheel, but when you're forty-five and have two kids and a husband and a full time job, the last thing you want to do at night after you've put everybody to bed is study to pass a driving exam. But I did. Especially when I figured out that the written exam was more like a grammatical test, that I had to be really careful to read the question and understand what I was answering. Once I passed the written exam I had to go back to driving school and re-learn how to drive the way that they wanted to see me drive during the test. This was really hard because after you've been driving for nearly thirty years you have little habits that you just don't notice anymore. Like not keeping your hands on the wheel all the time, shifting down without braking, going just a little over the speed limit...I'm proud to say that on the day I took the driving test I was the only one of five candidates that passed that afternoon. See, it was hard!
I can tell you that getting the license has made a huge change in my life. I don't think about it anymore (whereas before I thought about it day and night, literally) and when I DO think about it I'm just really proud of myself. A little ashamed too. I could have done this years ago and I didn't because I thought I wouldn't be able to do it. But I was. Now I have to think about how many other things I don't do because I think that I can't. But I can.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Creative Energy

I think in a previous post I already spoke about my love for self help books. The nice thing about me is that if they tickle my fancy, I do follow through with the books' advice and actually get something out of it. I don't follow every single thing, but there is usually something that strikes a cord and I go with it. Take "Coach Yourself to Success". The only thing so far that I've zeroed in on is page 3, entitled "Eliminate all those petty annoyances". Anything that you've put off, anything that you think about all the time should be dealt with. I made my list of about forty items and I update it every month. Next week we'll see if I'm successful with the number one item...

So last week I ordered "Getting Things Done". I didn't really like the way it's written. Mostly because he's more of a businessman trying to make other businessmen productive so the linguistics stricter and more rigid. My eyes grazed over a lot of stuff, but what I did get out of the book was a system for dealing with my office clutter. My office room is now beautifully clean and coordinated and I have an "in" box that I check out once a day. I had 120 emails in my incoming mail that just sat there. Whenever I would close the computer I always felt that my work was incomplete, which it probably was, every other day. So now I have just two messages in my incoming mail, I'm waiting on an answer for them and then I can deal with them. I closed my work computer at 6.30 pm and felt like I had done a nice days work.
This is all aimed at freeing up your creative energy and to give you more productivity so that you can work easier. In both books they talked about things just "coming to you" when you've done the exercises correctly.

Today as I was sitting there gloating about what a nice clean desk I had when an old client of mine called on my cell phone. It's a really really important client that starts with an "N" and ends with an "E" and is one of the biggest sport manufacturers on the planet. They wanted to know if I could coordinate a convention that they'll be having at a half marathon race in March. "Of course, no problem!" Now, I've never done this before, but I don't see it as being that difficult. The triumph for me is that this is the same client that four years ago told me that I would never set foot in their offices again. Why? I had worked heavily and almost exclusively for them for three years. I had just finished a big project and was supposed to maybe start a new one when they just stopped answering my telephone calls, emails and phone messages. At that point I understood that they weren't interested in further work for that season, but since we had seen each other every single week for three years, couldn't they bother to give me a call and say thanks but no thanks? Apparently not, because they're the biggest manufacturer on the planet and they don't need to do that. I did something that I do not regret even though it probably cost me a lot of money: I called they're bosses in Holland. I told them what happened and said that all I wanted was for a phone call from the Italian office saying that they no longer needed my services. I wanted closier. They'd be seeing me all the time anyway, why not be on a friendly basis? I am at every friggin major running event in this country, my husband has several athletes that are sponsored by them, so why not be nice? Holland said they would get back to me.
The next day I instead got a call from the Italian boss. I'll spare you the details but his parting words were: "You'll never set foot in this office again".
Oh yes I will. Next tuesday, in fact.
The creative energy flows...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

I'm in white with bad posture

Carpi 2005
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.

If you don't see any posts it's usually because I'm either too busy or think I have nothing interesting to say. Or both. What I've been doing:

- Evan went to two weeks of day care and then got sick. Really sick. The poor babe burst an eardrum and we wouldn't have known because he doesn't cry about these things. But when we saw blood coming out of his ear we knew things were bad. We rushed him to the pediatric emergency where he was pumped with antibiotics and told to not to send him back to school for three weeks. He's better now, but I have to go through the whole introductory to school with him again. Ugh...

- I ran my marathon. I did not do well. I did finish it. I decided to run another one in november, in Firenze.

- After a few week of unsupervised and careless eating (but no weight gain!) I have been reinspired and am now back to another eating regime. THIS time I dusted off the diet my dietician gave me four years ago and am having a go at that. The one catch is that I'm using Fred's idea ( of taking one day off per week from dieting and having a "free" day. I did this in 1993 during my first post pregnancy diet and it was not only efficient, but fun. I'll tell you about it in a soon-to-be written entry.

- Do you remember my "lightening" list? Well, I almost have the number one heavy burden crossed off of it. Don't want to jinx it though, so I'll only let you know when it happens. Until then...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Once upon a time...

This last winter I got a call from a new client. Actually, three new clients since it was three women that wanted to train together. I met them at the local park the next day so that I could see what shape they were in and start them off on a running programme. LEAD-girl was the one that had made the call. She was the obvious group leader because she talked about seventy percent of the time and answered for the others even when she wasn’t called upon. Very pretty, by the way. FAST-girl was the fastest in the group. She mentioned that she’d been running for awhile, but she seemed fine about coming along for the ride and slowing down to run at the other’s speed. SHY-girl was the most soft spoken. She didn’t really say much and sort of looked like she wasn’t comfortable about doing this whole thing with me. She was also overweight by about thirty pounds, which doesn’t sound like much except that she is five foot six inches and it all sat on her rear. I watched them run, showed them some exercises, timed a kilometre where FAST-girl came in first, LEAD-girl came in second and SHY-girl came in third by over a minute. I explained the programme for the first month and gave them an appointment for the next. They trained with me the whole winter, through cold and wet and snow. Nothing seemed to stop them. Each time we met I saw that they had a little more enthusiasm and that most of all they were improving. Surprising, the one who was improving the most was SHY-girl. She was a little less out of breathe and she was asking a few more questions each time. I also saw her small hidden talent: she moved her feet really well. What most runners don’t understand is that in running, your feet are what make you move. Most people concentrate on getting an aerobic base (very important), or getting strong legs (also very important), but the area where you can make the most improvement is in using your feet the proper way. If you have a strong heart and legs and then shuffle your feet, you “X” out the first two factors. SHY-girl moved her feet. Tick-tick-tick-tick-tick she’d run by me, still red in the face and still a little out of breathe, but faster and more at ease every time. LEAD-girl started to have trouble because, on the other hand, she had a really long gait. CLOMP-CLOMP-CLOMP-CLOMP she’d run past me as I timed her.

Sometime around february it became inevitable that I’d have to start giving them individualized running programmes if they wanted to further improve. I knew that they were running faster, but since I needed to put some numbers on the amount of improvement they’d had I asked them to run 1km on the track so that I could get a better perspective of their speed. I started FAST-girl off first ‘cause I knew that she was still going to be the leader here as far as pace was concerned. LEAD-girl went next followed by SHY-girl twenty seconds later. After one lap around the track something strange happened: SHY-girl was gaining on LEAD-girl. As they rounded the corner SHY-girl picked up the pace and just went flying by her. At the same time LEAD-girl, as soon as she got passed, immediately stopped in her tracks and started to walk. She wasn’t even going to finish the last lap. She came over to me and started to talk about feeling tired lately and that something was wrong. I asked her a few questions (are you eating nutritious foods, do you have your period, are you working a lot?) and then asked her the final one: “I noticed you stopped just as SHY-girl passed you...” Suddenly LEAD-girl turned into this venom spitting, green tailed psychopath. She started yelling about how she was always first in everything she did, that she couldn’t lose, that she wasn’t going to stand for having SHY-girl pass her. I tried to explain to her that this wasn’t a race it was just to see where they all stood and that it would help me to calibrate the running load so that I could give her a programme to help her improve. But at that point there was no way to reason with her so I just let it go. SHY-girl looked shyer than ever and FAST-girl just looked the other way trying to pretend that nothing was happening.
A month went past and I didn’t hear from them so I wrote a group email asking how things were going. LEAD-girl said that she was injured and wasn’t running as much. She talked about some sort of inguinal pull...then a month later talked about a hernia in her neck (very rare, and I assume that she got it from her job as an estetician since she leans over a lot for most of her operations). FAST-girl was vague about everything, but I sent her a programme anyway. SHY-girl said things were going great, had I heard from the others? And when did I think that they would be up and running together again? I told her that it was hard to tell since I didn’t really know what LEAD-girl was doing. I started to send SHY-girl her programme again. This time I knew how fast she was running so it was easy to write and even easier to see fast results. Since I knew that she would now be running alone I invited her to come running with me and some of my friends, which she did. It’s on one of these runs that she told me about how the whole drama behind this group started to unravel. After the track episode, LEAD-girl had started to speak badly of me. She said that I didn’t pay enough attention to her and that she was going to be looking for someone else to train her. We all knew what had really happened: she was used to being the center of attention and all of the sudden, with SHY-girl passing her, she was now the last in the group. A position that she obviously wasn’t used to and refused to be in. From this one single episode I know that the threesome is no longer running together. They still speak to each other, but it’s become tabu for them to even talk about running. LEAD-girl is still running but is being trained by someone else. I know she’s had various injuries that she still hasn’t healed from. FAST-girl is also injured and looks like she’s gained a few. SHY-girl is still training with me and she completed her first half marathon last month with a time of 2h13’. I am trying to have her meet as many “nice” runners as I can. It is now my mission to get her to become as efficient a runner as she can. We have a plan, we will follow, vendictive? Maybe, but at least one nice runner will benefit from it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Early Winter

No, I haven't slipped away...still here...just went through a hormonal induced two week depression bonanza that seems to have finally left my body. Whew! I only have two more weeks until my marathon, two weeks more of training, but I seem to have lost a little focus. This always happens to me a few weeks away from the event. I think it just comes from being ready to do it NOW and not wanting to wait anymore. But I do need to taper and I do need the extra time to get it together mentally for that 42km trip.
I'm pretty sure I won't be able to run a BQ time of four hours, but I probably be able to trim some time off my 4 hour 21 minute springtime marathon. I have a lot of friends that are coming to run with me, supporting me the whole way, and that is a nice thought.
My biggest problem right now is the weather. It started raining this last week and it literally hasn't stopped. Yesterday I went for an 80 minute run and it poured three times during the session. Today I was supposed to run for two hours but it just won't let up and I'm going to have to come up with plan "B". I'll go meditate on that now...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Be. Here. Now.

Katrina over Florida
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
Be Here Now. That was the title of a popular esoteric, funky, spirtual book from the 70's. I remember I used to see it on the coffee tables of people's houses, next to the joints (hey, I grew up in California during the 60's and 70's!). It always stuck with me because sometimes I forget to be in the moment. I am always yearning for the past (sadness) or worrying about what will come in the future, whereas I have a really difficult time with what I am doing right in this moment. I have a really short attention span, I am constantly juggling doing three or four things at once and I often start doing something before I've even finished with the last thing I was doing.

Last night I had a really difficult workout:

15' warmup run + 4 x (1km fast/1km slow) + 20' + 4 x 1km fast, rec. 3'.

While I was warming up I was worrying about the eight km after and then while I did the 8km I was thinking about the faster 4 x 1km that I had to do. Why can't I Be.Here.Now? Think about the moment, concentrate on what is going on NOW instead of constantly having my mind somewhere else. I wasn't really super happy about the 8km that I did, but then the 4 x 1km went super. I was able to run them all at 4'57"/km. This is like a 35 second improvement for me from this last spring and that is a lot! Four more weeks to go on this marathon training but I really have to concentrate on each single day and not worry about what is to come.

Friday, September 09, 2005


I just bought the PC version of Fitday. It is fantastic! If you are trying to keep track of what you eat, this is the software that you MUST buy now. Over the years I've tried loads of dietary software and internet based trackers but have never been satisfied with them. I wasn't even that crazy about the site. Then they sent me a message that if I wanted to download it, I could for just $ 19.95. I thought for that price it might be worth a try. It was, it is...go here if you want to check it out. Too bad I don't get commission on this!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Funky new glasses

Glasses 2
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
I am back! I survived two weeks down at the dreaded Mother-in-laws house at the beach. I think the change in my mental attitude helped a lot. I don't care about how she/they treat me anymore (well, sometimes it does bother me...) so I'm not offended anymore when they get in weird moods. I averaged three runs per week and tried as best as I could not to gain too much. I got away with only gaining one kg, which is a miracle if you could have seen all the food that passed in front of my face: pizza, foccaccia, tons of fresh watermelon, grapes, great wine, delicious fried calimari fish...the list goes on and on but I used a lot of control and am very happy with that. Please note that when I go down south for vacation I have ALWAYS gained at least 4kg, so this was a victory.
Evan was accepted for part time day care. Yesterday I went to the preliminary meeting. I love the school and really liked the teachers. The building itself is airy and has lots of space and fun toys and activities. I think it's going to be a good thing for him. If you don't know it, the area that I live in has the world's best day care centers. People come to study them all the time to see what they're doing right. So, he starts next tuesday for just two hours a day with me present the whole time. Then we'll slowy take it up from there until he's able to stay at the school from 8.00am to 1.00pm without me. Olivia starts school on Wednesday also and I can't WAIT for that to happen. Spoken like a true mother!

I bought some funky new glasses last week. I don't know if they make me all that attractive, but they are so comfortable that I just can't take them off. A good thing too since I can't see clearly without them!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

(Not) Another Challenge

I belong to an online list called "Triathletes of the Dead Runners Society " aka TRI DRS. I joined it in 1995 , the year that I raced my first triathlon. I wanted to talk to people that had actually done triathlons and get more information for myself on what the heck I was doing. For any of you out there that participate in triathlons or are contemplating doing so, join us! So this week they started a weight loss challenge. At first I wasn't going to join, but then I went here to check out my Body Fat and it gave me a 29% reading! Hmmff! I think it's the wide hips compared to the bird-like wrists facto that gives me such an off reading (wrist = 6.5 inches, hips = 41 inches). In any case, I decided to join them in yet another desperate attempt to blast off my last pounds. I used to HATE the challenges that people would launch when I was on the WW lists. So dull, so boring...but this one has MONEY riding on it. Twenty bucks per participant, winner takes all. I already know that I'm not going to win because I just don't have that much weight to lose, but it does make it a bit more interesting. You can check out the Challenge Page to see how it goes. By the way, if any of you are overweight and putting off exercise until you lose enough, a few of the people on this list have quite a few pounds to lose and yet have no problem in participating in Ironman distance races. Like they say: just do it!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Hot in oh so many ways...

Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
Yesterday one of my neighbors stopped me while I was taking out the garbage. She lives two stories above us and has a terrace that overlooks our garden. She stopped me to tell me that we have the most beautiful garden in all the condominium and that it was a joy to look at. That made me so happy! I just wanted to make it even prettier for everybody to enjoy. It's not even close to how I want it to be, but do y'all remember those seeds that I planted? All the flowers blossomed and I have a ton of tomatoes and lettuce coming up every day. Goes to show you, anybody can have a green thumb.

It's now confirmed that I'm in the middle of a very early menopause. I know because now I'm having hot flashes. When they first started in the middle of June I wasn't feeling them as much because it was already a hundred degrees out anyway. But when we went up to Switzerland in July, THEN I could really feel them. It starts out with a heat that radiates from my chest and spreads out to my arms and face. I start taking off any excess clothing I have on instantly and try to get cool. The peak only lasts for about twenty seconds but the hot feeling stays for at least five more minutes. Yesterday during the day I counted ten of them. At night it's the worst 'cause it wakes me up, plus I tend to sweat a lot and I'm having to change the sheets more often. I looked up some literature on it to see how long this will go on: up to ten years! Oh, the joy of being a woman...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Once a year...

Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.

I am sitting in my studio dripping with sweat. It is literally running off my skin...and it's only seven a.m.! I have to go fill up the kiddy pool before it starts to get too hot.

My husband is a professional athletic coach so we have a pretty set schedule year round (and always will) on where he has to be and what he's doing. The Olympics are every four years, the World Championship every two, European Championship every two, etc, etc. Then there are the races that each individual athlete chooses such as the fall and spring marathons or smaller races here in Italy. A professional athlete cannot train in hot, humid weather during the summer, so they usually pack off to the mountains for at least three months. The number one choice for the month of July for most pros is St. Moritz, Switzerland. It's at 1800 mt altitude, it usually around 15° so they can run all day long without any problem. It is expensive. Very expensive. But hubby and I have worked out a system that cuts the costs for us, mainly so that his family (me and the kids) can be with him. We rent a house. Sometimes we share it with one or two of his athletes (as was the case this year) and we buy most of our food in Italy which is only a half hour over the border. I bring my work with me and go to this posh hotel where they have a Wi-Fi in the lobby. Free internet! My days are uneventful but relaxing. We follow the same rhythms that hubby's athletes do:

- Get up and eat breakfast around 8.00 am. Breakfast was either whole wheat pancakes or oatmeal or bread. All with tea and fruit.

- 10.00 am. While hubby did first training session with athletes I brought Evan to this fantastic park. It had a 300mt slide and trampolines and lots of wooden bridges and more slides.

- 12.00 - head back to the house and start lunch. Lunch was always a meat dish with a huge salad and fruit to follow.

- 14.00 - Watch the Tour de France while working on writing, articles or big group that I'm training at the Venice Marathon.

- 17.00 - Second training session for hubby's athletes, one and only training session for Julia. I learned SO MUCH about running this month. Actually I should say that there were a few concepts that really clicked in my head. I've started to apply them to myself to begin with and...they work! When I came back home I did a track test and it showed that I am really on schedule for my Boston Qualifier. I'm trying not to get sidetracked though and will just keep my nose to the grindstone for the next few months.

19.00 - Time to start dinner! Pasta or a bean soup or homemade pizza (no cheese!) or rice accompanied by a big salad and fruit.

21.00 - Five minutes of watching television in German. Eventually give up and read a book. Bedtime at around 22.00.

This was it, day in and day out. At the end of the three weeks I did not want to leave. I was so relaxed, so rid of stress, I'm only hoping that I can keep it up somehow.

Now I'm back home and Hubby has changed mountain location. He'll be flying up to Finland on the 10th to assist the young lady you see in the photo who will be running the women's marathon. If you happen to follow it on television it should be televised on Sunday August 14th.

I in the meantime am back to sweating in 100° weather. I'm heading to that kiddy pool now...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


Well, sort of a vacation. I'm spending my last days in beautiful St. Moritz , Switzerland where my hubby is working with some athletes and I'm soaking up the beauty of it all. I'll be back home this weekend and will write some nice entries on what I've been doing: running, eating well and enjoying life!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

100° Degrees

That's how hot it is outside: 100 degrees. That would be about 38's hot! Since I stopped counting WW points I've lost another two pounds, but I think it's mostly due to having no appetite except for fruit and water.
We went down to the south of Italy to go see my homeopathic doctor. I love him. He's about 75 years old and very sweet. He found a few things that needed to be attended to (one kidney not functioning well, one ovary blocked) but mostly said that I was run down and gave me a cure to build me back up. He told hubby not to leave me alone so much. P laughed as he got on the plane to go to Spain for the week... After only a week of the new drops and sticking to my anti allergen diet, I feel 100% better. I did take a week off of running, also because I caught a super cold. It really sucks to have a cold when it's hot as hell outside. You can't get under the covers and sleep, you just have to be miserable and hot and sneeze a lot.

This week I'm working on my "Get Light" list. I love self help books and they do work for me since I follow instructions well. The new book I have is on self coaching yourself and the first exercise she has you do is to list 60 things that are dragging you down. It can be anything from sewing a button on a shirt to paying an outstanding bill. Just all of those things that you think about all the time and put off doing. So far I've only come up with about thirty but I'm still working on it. Some of them are easy. Next to my kitchen door that goes out onto the yard I have this wire shelf. It was PILED with junk that needed to be put in the right places or thrown away. Every single time that I walked past it (approximately seventy times a day!) I would say to myself - I hate this, I need to clean it - and then not do it. I did it yesterday. It took me about forty minutes and now it looks beautiful. And I feel lighter. My list has some simple things (clean this, file that) and some very grave items that I have shoved to the back of my list for a million years. The biggest is that I have to get an Italian drivers license. Now I have an American drivers license, but they want me to actually take the Italian test as if I didn't know how to drive. I've known this for years...So as part of the effort to lighten the list I went yesterday to get an application form. Today I made an appointment for the obligatory doctors visit and saturday I should be able to hand in the papers and they'll give me a pink slip so that I can drive with someone so I can "learn". The test is two part: written and driven. I'm not concerned about the driven part since I've been driving for thirty years. It's the written test that freaks me. I'll get over it though...and I'll feel so much lighter when I have that license in my hand!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Weigh In #11

Well, I faithfully followed seven days on the Weight Watchers points plan. I’m now down to twenty base points which seems like so little to me. Last year when I was breast feeding I got a whole TEN POINTS extra. Now that was nice! Anyway, I ran regularly and counted the points for that too, which were never above seven. I also ate all my extra points – their name fails me right now- which are thirty five more. When I went for my Wednesday Weigh In I had loss zero pounds.
This sort of surprised me because all week the scale had shown a loss. Yes, I weigh every day and I need to address this problem too, but we’ll get to that when I’m ready for it. The scale variation was by as much as two kilos (four and a half lbs...), but Wednesday I dutifully recorded my 68 kg into my excel sheet. The next day I was down a kilo. Today I’m down two kilos again, which would be my original target weight.
I think that at this point of the game, I am better off not following a “diet”. I have really good eating habits. I eat all the right foods and I haven’t binged in so long I can’t even remember the last time I did it. My exercising is regular, probably even more than your average person. I’m running well. I can really tell the difference from a few months ago when little places would jiggle all the time, and I’m definately faster without those extra kgs on. I fit into all of my clothes, even those size ten red shorts. I really can’t think of a whole lot of things I can improve on right now. Of course I’d love to be firmer and I would really love to lose some more on my thighs and butt, but it’s not going to happen counting points. I feel liberated.
Now I have to decide what to do with this open diary. Keep it and write about maintaining my weight and continueing my running?

Monday, June 13, 2005

Mind Games

I've discovered a really important thing about my dieting self this week. If I follow an eating routine because I think that I need to drop five pounds in order to fit into a pair of pants, all I can think about is eating a bag of chocolate chip cookies. If instead I think that I'm eating to keep up my energy and improve my health and get that Boston Qualification, I pretty much don't care about food and skip on the ice cream 'cause it might put a few pounds on me that will eventually drag me down during a run. This is good...


My scale is doing some wild ups and downs this week, so I don't even know where it will land on Wednesday. I'm on schedule, within my points and exercising, but that doesn't seem to mean very much to this 'ole body lately...


I've also started to do some daily strength exercises. I'm only planning them out one week at a time. As a matter of fact I'm thinking of changing them every week so that I don't get bored. With static exercises (sit-ups and such) I tend to have these big plans that piddle out after a few days. But I really need some help in the hip, thigh and butt area. Again, if I think it's going to help my running, I'll probably do it. If I think that it's for weight loss it'll piddle out after two days...We'll have to analyze this behavior someday...


I have a "babyjogger" for the baby that I've only recently started to use. When my daughter was born I used to tow her in it for every one of my runs. I even trained for a marathon, pushing her up to two hours at a time. She loved it and would take naps in it while I ran. Of course I would bring juice and snacks for her - she had a blast. Evan on the other hand couldn't stand to be in it. This last summer twenty minutes was his max. I used to time it daily and I was never off. This last week he's been asking to be pushed in the stroller. He uses it as a sleeping mechanism since he only asks when he's tired and then he nods off after about ten minutes. It's a nice way for me to get a walk in during the afternoon though.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Weigh In #10

If habitual readers have been attentive, I stopped counting WW points the week before my marathon, exactly one month ago. I didn't want to worry about how many points I was eating that week. I also knew that I wouldn't be gaining anything so I took the plunge. Ever since then I've been very good about my eating, but I've only lost one pound for the month of May. While I'm REALLY happy about losing a pound... I want to get this over with! I only have 2 kgs (4.5 lbs) to go but as I've said in the past, I want to be able to take them off in a natural way. I don't want to be hungry, I don't want to do a diet that I can't maintain in the longrun. So this week I'll be counting my WW points again to see if something moves. I'm a little apprehensive to do this because if I DON'T lose something (say, at least a pound) I'm afraid it might trigger some bad eating which, to my great surprise, I haven't done in months. Anyway, I'll give it a go and update here as much as I can this week (more for me than for you!). If anybody wants to join me, we can do it for just ONE WEEK. One week won't kill yah!

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Weigh In #9

My twelve year old daughter started her menses this last March. As she was gearing up to “D – day” it was like watching a scientific experiment. In the month before she was, of course, as nasty as could be. She talked back all the time, ran into her room to cry every day, told me that I probably didn’t really love her, and absolutely never helped around the house. I can’t tell you how unpleasant it was to be around her. She was also always hungry. Always. She’d have a full dinner of chicken and potatoes and salad and fruit and then thirty minutes after getting up from the table she’d be back in the kitchen trying to find something else to eat. I don’t keep junky food around the house but I sensed that this was exactly what she needed, so one day I bought this twelve pack of these little fruit pies. She ate them ALL in a matter of hours. I thought something was seriously wrong and I was starting to get worried about her. She’s not overweight at all (1,60 mt x 53 kg) but at the rate she was going I didn’t know where it was going to all go. And then her period started and everything went back to normal…until thirty days later!

I read once that in the week before your menstrual cycle your body needs approximately 250 calories more per day, which is why we feel hungrier and more on edge the week before. After watching my daughter I started to pay more attention to my own hunger needs in the week before
My period. I always used to try and tame my hunger, ignoring it or pretending it wasn’t around when in actuality my body was just asking for some clean fuel so that it could go about the task of popping that monthly egg out. This week I gave it cherries, cantaloupe, bananas and an occasional
Ice cream. When it finally arrived it decided to stick around for eight whole days (I’m pretty sure I’m headed toward perimenopause…) so I just kept feeding it that extra bit. Surprisingly ( or maybe not…) the extra that I ate always worked out to about 250 calories.

My weight stayed the same this week and I’m happy with that.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I do what I do

Running in Rome
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
I remember when my daughter was small she wanted me to be a check-out lady at the grocery store. The second option would have been a hair dresser. She didn't like what I did...though I think she still doesn't understand exactly what I do for a living. Here's a link to an article I wrote five years ago in an american running magazine. Sorry, the book will be in Italian. Maybe I can set up some sort of groovy english language website. I haven't really seen one of those for women...(you'll have to copy and paste the address, I still haven't figured out how to manipulate the html by hand on this site).

Sunday, May 22, 2005


My biorhythm is out of wack. Quite frankly I don't really know how it should be but this is how it is: in the morning I wake up in a fog. Worse than a fog, I don't like to communicate with the world until at least eleven o'clock. This of course is impossible given that I have two children and a husband that I live with. So, after being called several times by my daughter to get my butt out of bed, I throw on whatever looks right for that particular season, walk to the kitchen, make myself a cup of tea, get the car keys and then bring my daughter to school - driving and drinking my tea. I stay alert for the rest of the morning, though it still does take me a few hours to be myself. Around three o'clock in the afternoon I get a little sleepy. Sometimes REALLY sleepy and I'll take an hour nap with the baby but I try to only do this in an emergency. Like when I realize that if I don't sleep for an hour the rest of my day is compromised. Then something awful happens. I wake up. Usually around nine p.m. So I start to do things. I'm self employed so it usually involves working or writing, other times it involves snuggling on the couch with the husband while we watch satellite television with a choice of 400 stations in three languages. I could literally stay up until three or four in the morning but I don't because then I wouldn't be able to get up in the morning and it would start an endless cycle...which I think has already happened. It does cause me to go to bed later though. I rarely go to bed before midnight. I am not happy with this whole set up but it's really difficult to change.

I read a magazine article that said to just establish a consistent schedule of getting in bed at 10.00 pm and getting up at 6.00 am. I've tried it this week though it has been more on the 10.30 pm - 7.00 am side...It seems to be working. My energy is a little better, but I do have to find a new time for writing (part of my profession) which always seemed to come out best after midnight. Gotta go, it's now 10.25 p.m. and I HAVE to try and change this one aspect of my life...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

What exactly do you mean?

Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
I was on the phone yesterday with my friend...She lives about two hours away from me so we actually don't see each other very much but she's good about keeping in touch by calling me often. We were talking about fall marathons. She's decided that she'll be running Berlin at the end of september after doing NYCM four times. She is always bugging me to train her, which I have on occasion but the thing is is that she never follows the program. She always has some little excuse why she couldn't do, complete or even think about starting one workout. BTW, she is single without children and has plenty of time on her hands. Then later she'll complain that her timing wasn't very good and maybe I could train's a never ending merry-go-round. Yesterday I told her that I was going to run my marathon in mid october near home. It's a nice course and I don't have to worry about whether hubby is out of town or not. I told her if she wanted I'd send her what I was doing so if she wanted to follow along she could. At the moment we are almost running at the same pace though I'm probably slightly faster. (Note: no effort on my part to just send an email with my schedule...) I told her I'm looking to go under four hours for my Boston qualification. She thought about it for a minute and said, "Well, you are older than me..." Yes, by five years. What she was meaning to say was that if I, the old bag could do it, she could too..."And fatter..." I didn't say anything. I just thought about the last time she saw me was probably last year...I really can't remember but it was probably a good five kilos ago. But still, how dare you! Some people have no tact. It only fires me up more to do better at this next marathon. I've included this picture just to show y'all that I bitch and complain about these last five lbs all the time but the reality of it is I am in pretty darn good shape...for an old lady that is.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

42.195 km (!)

I ran my marathon on Sunday! Since I wasn't really sure how it would go I decided that I'd run the first 21 km loop and then evaluate how I felt. Well, I felt great. There was a lot of wind, it hailed for about 10 minutes really hard. Then it rained a bit and then the sun came out. If we'd had a snow blizzard it would have been complete. The biggest problem was that when I went onto the second 21 km loop nobody followed! Most people were there to do the half marathon and there were only about 300 participants in the full marathon. It was tough with the wind and being alone because I didn't have anybody to run with to help me block out the wind like I did on the first loop. The great thing was that I always felt like running and I passed a lot of people in the last ten kilometres. I ran the last kilometre pretty fast and had a huge smile on my face. My final time was 4h21'15". Now I feel really energized and ready to train the whole summer for my next marathon which will be on October 15th. Can't wait!

Sunday, May 01, 2005

My Secret Garden

We bought a new house a little over two years ago and one of the main features was that it had a 200 square meter garden. It's not a lot, but I didn't know much about plants so it seemed like a manageable size. In the Condo there are three other houses with a garden, one with the same square footage as ours. While everybody else just called gardeners and had them install a ready made garden, hubby and I wanted to plant it ourselves. Mind you, we really didn't know much about plants or design or what would grow, but I figured it couldn't be rocket science so we started planting.

One terrible behavior I have that I hate hate hate is to buy seeds that I never plant. I'll buy like thirty packets of various flowers that never even get opened. This year I tried to "examine" this peculiarity of mine and decided that it was because deep down I did't really think that I had a green thumb. I don't ever expect the seedlings to sprout. This year I got my courage together and planted some. Twenty different varieties, actually. I figured that if I didn't plant them how would I ever know if they would grow? Wouldn't it be like my weight loss? I just had to keep at it, adjust my mistakes and never give up. I am pleased to say that eighteen out of twenty flowers have popped up. I'm not giving up on those last two either. I think my main problem in the past is that I'd practically dig graves for the poor seeds when all I really had to do was set them on the soil and put a half an inch of dirt on top. I feel like a nerd 'cause I go and examine them about four times a day to see what's come up and how much they've grown. Not quite a green thumb, but I'm working on it.

On the weight front everything is going well, thank you for asking!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

No Secrets here!

One of my three readers asks how I can eat so sensibly and if I have any tips to share. Mmmm...that’s actually a really difficult question to answer. This has been a really long journey for me, though I must say I do feel like I am at the end of the road. I’m mostly satisfied with my eating lifestyle and habits, but it did take me years (like twenty-five!) to get to where I am. Here’s generally what I had to do:
- I overcame my bingeing. I did that a lot as a teenager and probably a good part of my twenties. I used food as a way of getting out my aggressions-emotions-frustrations. Not bingeing has nothing to do with willpower. You have to learn why you abuse food and what is really hurting you. That took me a long time and a few trips to the psychologists couch to figure out. I still go overboard on sweets every once in a while but I do recognize that it’s because they are really tasty and just put a stop to it.
- I love exercise. I love endurance exercise. I always have, btw. Fun to me is training for a 100km biking race, and then doing the race. I love running, I love swimming, I love biking, I am very grateful that I have found my exercise groove because exercise does have to be part of your life if you have a tendency to make the scales tip the wrong way.
- I found a style of eating that works for me. I don’t eat milk products, pork, most sugars, and coffee. They’re all things that irritate me and I’m unable to digest. The most difficult to get rid of was the cheese, but after a few months I didn’t even miss it anymore. This is not to say that everybody should do’s what worked for me. But I think it helps to know what your body works on best.
- I eat a TON of fruit and vegetables. I spend most of my grocery budget on fruit. Right now I’m into making fruit salads with lots of strawberries. Peaches should be coming in next month!
- I don’t feel guilty about eating dessert and probably do once a week. Manageing your weight is not about denial. You just have to find a balance for yourself, and for me desserts are in the picture.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Lies, lies, lies!

I read an interview in a women's magazine with Catherine Zeta Jones asking her about her family life and what she does to keep so gorgeous and beautiful. All you new mothers out there must remember CZJ during both her pregnancies. She was still beautiful but WAY larger. At the Academy Awards those boobs were spilling over her low cut bra. She was gorgeous. Anyway, the mag editor asked her what she now does to keep in shape. She replyed "Oh, just running after my children is enough exercise for me!"
How dare she lie like that! Can't there be some sort of solidarity among women? There is no way that she didn't have some sort of personal trainer (or two...) whip her into shape after that last pregnancy. Plus dieting, plus a personal chef...geez...

Monday, April 11, 2005

Quick Trip

We went to Paris for the weekend. It was a quick trip, a business trip actually. We went to see the marathon since hubby had a female athlete running there. I already knew ahead of time that I wouldn't be exercising since we had every minute planned, but I did get in a long five hour walk on saturday walking from the Operà to the Eiffel tower. The baby slept the entire time! I assure you, this is a rare occurance since he always wants to get out of the stroller and push it himself.
Eating went well considering that we had all our meals at the hotel and it was buffet style. I piled on the salad at the start of each meal and then had some fish one night and chicken the next. On the walk I did make the exception of trying a cone of Ben & Jerry's ice cream (chunky monkey) since I had never eaten it. No big thrill, I remain a diehard Hagan Daz fan. I decided not to count points over the weekend though I'm positive I didn't go over. I also started my cycle on saturday which doesn't help things scale-wise.
This morning I went running under the rain. 14km and it felt great. I mean, I feel lighter...we'll see...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Never judge a book by it's cover

I have this male client that I train. For those who know nothing about me, I’m a personal trainer for aspiring runners. He joined a beginners marathon program that I had few years ago, ran the marathon, and then signed up for private sessions. I remember the first time I met him in person he had this breath that almost made me faint, it was so bad. Somehow it cleared up by our next meeting, but I had always sort of judged him as…I don’t know…a poor person. Whenever I would talk to him he would say that he does nothing but work so running was his outlet. He never went on any sort of significant vacation. All of his marathons were locally run, like not more than 50 kms away from his house.
This weekend me, hubby and the kids went to the Clients town to do some testing on some of the athletes I train in that area. The Client absolutely insisted that we come to dinner. He even wanted us to spend the night at his house but I wiggled out of that one.
Anyway, we arrived at the house…it was this HUGE villa smack in the center of this historic town. The house was out of a magazine. At one point he showed us the children’s (3 boys) “playroom”. The dang thing was as big as my ENTIRE house. The maid (yes, the maid) served us this gorgeous dinner of salad, shrimp pasta, baked fish and pineapple for dessert. I was truly embarrassed by how much I was off mark about this guy. Just goes to show you that you can’t judge people by their appearance. I had always thought that I didn’t…but I guess I do.
So the dinner turned out to be good (I was really worried about that) and I stayed well within my points for the weekend. Tonight I went on a really nice hour and a half run that left me feeling full of energy. Maybe too full since I’m writing this at almost two in the morning…Good Night!